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Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship

University of Southern California
Los Angeles County, California
Closing date
Apr 14, 2023

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Position Type
General Anthropology
Full Time
Area Studies, Latin American / Caribbean Studies
Organization Type
Level of Experience

Must apply through this link:

We are seeking a two-year Postdoctoral Scholar for the NSF-funded project Expanding the Social World Downwards: Aquifers, Science, and Spatial Imaginaries in Costa Rica lead by Prof. Andrea Ballestero at the Anthropology Department, in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, US. The position starts on August 1st, 2023. We invite applications by March 31st for full consideration.

Expanding the Social World Downwards examines how the increasing scientific and governmental attention paid to aquifers in Costa Rica is transforming both spatial imaginaries of the underground and the meaning of private property. The Postdoctoral Scholar will lead a collaborative mapping arm of the project, building databases with spatial, visual, sonic, and historical inputs. Through creative use of GIS technology, the project will help explore Costa Rican aquifers, the knowledge production surrounding them, and the above- and below- ground experiences of local residents. This mapping component will contribute to the project’s multimodal analysis as well as to the wider dissemination of its results. It will make spatial data publicly accessible in creative and aesthetically careful ways. The ideal candidate will be interested in and able to work across the spatial sciences, humanities, and interpretive social sciences with a critical approach to mapping technologies. The postdoctoral scholar will work directly with Dr. Ballestero. Find more information about Expanding the Social World Downwards here.

We welcome candidates with core competencies in geospatial visualization, GIS or similar technologies, and doctoral level research experience on, but not limited to: water, the underground, multimodal qualitative analysis, space and place, environmental history and science, and related themes. Candidates can come from (inter)disciplinary backgrounds including but not limited to: anthropology, critical sociology, STS, geography, media studies, critical design studies, data visualization, design. Candidates with experience working with data sources, archives, and collaborators in Latin America or the Global South more broadly are particularly welcome. An ability to communicate in Spanish is highly desirable. PI Ballestero leads collaboratively, is committed to feminist mentoring practices, and fosters a generative and supportive research space.


  • Design the mapping/visual architecture of the project using existing mapping and online technologies (not coding from scratch).
  • Use GIS and/or other digital mapping tools to accessibly represent a variety of data, including LandSat images, government aquifer maps, photographs, sound files, and cadastral data. 
  • Contribute to the writing of both academic articles and non-academic reports.
  • Help conceptualize and oversee the creation of an online repository for this material.
  • Participate in workshops, talks, and other events related to the project. 
  • Coordinate with USC for the administration of the mapping arm of the project.
  • No teaching requirements.


  • Exceptional organizational skills.
  • Proficient in ArcGIS/QGIS and other data visualization, visual art technologies.
  • Doctoral degree in hand by August 1, 2023 (obtained within the last five years at the time of hiring).
  • Proficient in Spanish (highly desirable).

Required Documents for Application:

  • CV 
  • Cover letter detailing a) your research experience, b) your technical skills, c) your overall profile and research interests (2 pages single-spaced max).
  • One writing sample (publication or dissertation chapter) and link or PDF of a mapping or visualization project you have worked on. Please upload these as a single PDF.
  • Names of two references (will only be contacted if a candidate is selected as a finalist).
  • Apply by March 31st for full consideration.

What we offer:

  • Two-year contract
  • Salary of $75,000/year plus benefits (see for details on benefits)
  • $3000 annual travel funds to present research results at conferences
  • $3000 moving expenses
  • A vibrant community at USC and the broader Los Angeles academic, activist, artistic scene.

Please email with any questions.

The University of Southern California is an Equal Opportunity Employer that values diversity.

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